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President of Trinity College. 


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Our Duty to the Neg^ro' 

By John Carlisle Kelgo, D. D., 
President of Trinity College 

Between a real problem and an imaginary problem there is 
essential difference. In every live and progressive nation there 
will never be any lack of real problems. But a people may devel- 
op an intellectual morbidness that magnifies the slightest fric- 
tion into a perilous condition. Doubtless many of the so-called 
American problems are only creatures of a morbid sensitiveness 
of mind, into w^hich many men have worked themselves. Just at 
this time the negro problem has been set forth as one of America's 
greatest issues, and, since the negro has his home in the South, it 
is regarded as the supreme problem of Southern civilization. Hov^r 
much of this problem is real and how much of it is fictitious need 
not be discussed. No doubt there is much of it that is real; but be 
that as it may, the fact should never be overlooked that no prob- 
lem can be settled in the white heat of passion. Passion aggra- 
vates; it never settles an issue. So the white man who hates the 
negro and the negro who hates the white man will render no 
assistance in settling this race problem. Men trained to look at 
a question in the clear light of a sober judgment and to consider 
all the details of it are the men who settle the questions of a civi- 

There are four phases of the negro problem, as there are four 
points from v^hich his life may be viewed. These are his religious, 
his industrial, his social, and his political duties and progress. 
The present agitation of the negro problem concerns itself almost 
entirely with his political relations and tasks. It is true that the 
question of his social relation is brought into the discussion. 
However, no one will deny that the present prominence given to 
the study of the negro came out of an intense political sensi- 
tiveness. The temporary reign of the combined constituencies of 
the republican and populist parties brought to the negro a politi- 
cal importance and power which did him hurt by creating a fear 

*An address delivered before the students of Trinity College and the citizens 
of Durham, N. C, September 21, 1903. 

3 3 3 3 3 ' 


among the better class of the white race that the negro might 
return to power and the days of reconstruction be repeated in the 
South. To a very large extent this was an honest, as well as a 
natural, fear; but there was a class of politicians who, taking 
advantage of this fear, made the negro the chief issue of politics. 
As the chief issue of a political campaign, the worst sides of his 
character were portrayed in the strongest terms. For twenty 
years the South had been comparatively quiet on the race prob- 
lem, but these new conditions set leaders of political parties to 
studying the arts of party protection. New election laws and 
amendments of constitutions were proposed, while methods em- 
ployed in elections had more regard for party success than for 
civic morals. The fact that amendments of constitutions usually 
required educational qualifications for voters forced the ques- 
tion of education into political prominence; and, under the con- 
ditions, made the question of the negro's education a political 
issue. This is a mere outline of recent facts of history, but the 
outline is sufficient to show that the present discussion of the 
negro came out of politics and is a political discussion. 

Political feelings are the most intense feelings. Especially is this 
true in the South. And when these feelings are greatly aroused 
it is not hard to magnify a mistake into a crime, a blunder into a 
disaster, and even a falsehood into a real peril. So the incident 
of Booker Washington in the White House, the presence of 
negroes at one of the regular social functions of the President, 
and similar incidents, were the occasions for wide discussions, 
which became the cause of intense racial feelings, and introduced 
into the discussion of the negro the old question of social equality. 
This new feature widened the discussion, and others besides poli- 
ticians began to speak and write about the negro. Without his 
effort, even without his desire, the negro has been forced into 
prominence as a problem. However, the real problem seems to 
have shifted from the negro to the white man, and what began 
as a negro problem has developed into a problem for the white 
man to work out. 

There are some historical facts concerning the negro which 
should not be forgotten. He did not come to America on his own 
motion. He came because he had to come. He was brought to 
America as a commodity of trade. It is no matter to him whether 

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Old England or New England, or both, captured his ancestors in 
Africa and brought them to America and sold them as slaves. 
The negro is not given to migration, and doubtless would have 
remained in Africa had he not been taken by force and brought 
to America 

He did not fix his social position. He was bought to serve, 
and the same power which brought him from Africa made of him 
a servant and decided the kind of service he should render. He 
seemed to fit into an aristocratic order of society and accepted 
his place as a servant without any great amount of discomfort. 

He did not of his own motion make himself the issue of the 
civil war. Congressmen from the South and from New England 
discussed him, and worked themselves into a passion about him, 
which broke forth into a horrible contention of blood. In this 
contention he behaved himself with notable loyalty and service. 
He accepted the issues of the civil war as the settlement of a fear- 
ful contention between the North and his Southern owners. 

He did not ask for the ballot. That was given to him by the 
white legislators of the nation. The use or misuse he may have 
made of the ballot w^as in obedience to the orders of those who 
passed the fifteenth amendment and made him a voter. 

In some of the Southern States the ballot has been taken from 
many of them, or, to be more accurate, constitutions have been 
so changed that only a small number of negroes can vote. This 
was done without their request, and those who have watched 
most closely the negroes to whom the ballot has been denied, 
must admit that they seem about as well satisfied not to vote as 
they were to vote. 

He had no choice in the matter of fixing his primary ideas of 
civilization. Beginning as a slave, he submitted to the ideas of his 
owner in those matters as well as in industrial matters. Under 
the laws of servitude which forced him to carry out the will of 
his owner, by a natural process he became an imitator of his 
master, and this easily became the method of his primary educa- 
tion in civilization. 

There are natural qualities of character which are creditable to 
the negro. He is a lover of success. He has never showed any 
jealousy of the men who have attained prominence in society or 
in the world of commerce. On the contrary, the negro likes a 


successful man and dislikes an unsuccessful man. It is this qual- 
ity in his character which keeps him from becoming a socialist, a 
communist, a paternalist, or any other sort of social revolution- 
ist. Left to himself he is essentially an aristocrat in his notions 
of government and society. 

The negro is what you may call a jolly creature. It cannot be 
said that he has what is generally understood by the term wit 
and humor, especially the higher forms of them, but he is jolly. 
The Indian is a sullen man and does not know how to laugh; the 
negro scarcely knows how to be serious. He is the world's great 
laugher. It is this quality in his character that makes it hard for 
him to nurse spites and pessimism. Whistling, laughing, danc- 
ing and singing belong to his nature, and have served to break 
much that is dreary in his life. 

It is easy for the negro to be religious. He has no tendency 
toward any of the forms of infidelity and scepticism. Much of 
what many negroes call religion has in it all the qualities of 
superstition, especially is this true of the extreme religionists 
among them; but it is to the credit of the negro that he becomes 
over-religious instead of becoming sceptical. Judging from the 
standpoint of psychology the negro is evidently in the emotional 
period of his evolution, and it is well that his chief emotions are 
the singing, whistling, dancing, and shouting emotions. 

It is not worth while to enumerate the negro's weaknesses. 
They are now, and have been, duly, if not unduly, stressed. 
There has been no disposition to overlook the enormity of his 
shortcomings. However, there is nothing unusual in the charac- 
ter and nature of these weaknesses; they are the same weaknesses 
that belong to human nature regardless of racial distinctions, 
and in the negro only manifest themselves in those forms pecu- 
liar to a race at his stage of moral and intellectual development. 
The cynic has read a peculiar enormity and turpitude out of the 
weaknesses and crime of the negro, but the cynic can see nothing 
good in anything. Cynicism is a type of insanity that is blind to 
all that is good and far-sighted to all that is evil, but the stand- 
ards of it are as unjust as its teachings are mean and false. It is 
not fair to measure anything at its lowest point or when it is at 
its greatest disadvantage. Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe showed 
slavery at its lowest point, and ''Uncle Tom's Cabin" is a dreary 


libel of thousands of slave owners who had in them a genuine 
regard for the welfare of their slaves. "The Leopard's Spots," 
following the same standards of judgment, seems to be an effort 
to even matters by showing the negro in his worst phase. Both 
books are narrow and pessimistic. Instead of judging things at 
their lowest points, they should be judged at their highest points. 
David, judged in the light of his horrible sin, is a criminal, but 
David, judged in the light of his penitential prayers, his heroic 
deeds, and his persistent efforts to upbuild his nation, is a charac- 
ter full of instruction and inspiration. When any man attains to 
a great height or does a noble deed, he sets a new standard for 
the ambitions of all men. It is the effort to reach these higher 
attainments, which at first seem extraordinary, that produces a 
race of strong men, to whom these things become the common 
level of life. By this process the human race has had its evolu- 
tion, and for this reason each life should be taken at its highest 
point, thus furnishing increasing hopes to those who are striving 
for better things. The best negro is not in the penitentiary, nor 
should he be judged by the indolent, insolent, and worthless 
members of his race. If this standard of judgment is fair for the 
negro it is fair for the white man, but who would judge American 
patriotism by the treason of Benedict Arnold ? Every race has 
a right to be duly credited with its heroes, and what the race 
may be should be decided by the best possibilities which have 
been revealed by its best members. There are bad negroes, there 
are bad men in every race, but there are good negroes. The old 
farm hand, patiently filling his place in the field, eating his simple 
meal in his hut, and going about to render such service as he may 
be able to render, is not a bad man and should not be hated 
because in his race is a class of degraded and debauched men and 

What is the negro's problem ? Has he a mission in the kingdom 
of human life ? Is there a service which he may render and which 
he should render to the world ? The negro problem is a simple 
problem, at least it is not hard to state. It is the problem of a 
man whose business it is to lift himself from a lower plane of life 
and character to a higher one, to fit himself to fill the mission of 
a negro man in the world's progress, to render the very best ser- 
vice which he, as a member of a distinct race, can render. There 


is nothing peculiar in this problem. It is the problem at which 
all races of men have been working for thousands of years. The 
Anglo-Saxon has two thousand years the start of the negro. 
Unfortunately for the negro, he is behind all other races, for he 
started late; but his late start is reason for pity, instead of cause 
for contempt. It is a great thing to know that he has started. 
Even the smallest advance which he may have made along any 
line is evidence that he can advance, at least in some direction, 
and this gives the world some degree of hope for him. His ad- 
vances show that his difficulties are not altogether incurable. 
The ancestors of the Southern negro were savages of the worst 
kind, but within two hundred years, under the training of South- 
em civilization, they have learned new lessons and show a capac- 
ity to acqure very much of a civilized life. 

The negro is a negro. His color and his racial characteristics 
were ordained of God and cannot be changed. He cannot become 
a Jew and he cannot become an Anglo-Saxon and should not 
wish to become either. He can be a negro and it is his chief busi- 
ness to be a good negro. In the kingdom of human life virtue is 
not a matter of color, and the negro should learn to respect his 
color. The blacker he is the surer he may be of racial integrity, 
and (2(1^ whatever he may come to be as'a black man. '^ -i<-^ ^2'*-^^^-'<2^^^»^?^_^^ /^ ^ 

There is a class of men who assert that the negro is extremely 
limited in his capacities. Some of these are extreme enough to 
assert that it is a waste of means and effort to attempt the devel- 
opment of the negro. There is an extremer class who boldly 
assert that the negro was ordained to a life of ignorance and 
degradation. Such men do not represent the world's best faith: 
they do not represent that class of men who have advanced per- 
manent good in the earth. It has been ordained that whatever 
may be made better should be made better. Under this law all 
forms of life assert their claims. A dog that may be made a bet- 
ter dog should be made a better one; a horse whose speed may be 
increased should have it increased; and, following this funda- 
mental principle, men have worked through the centuries to 
improve the breed of all domestic animals, and for their efforts 
there has been a profitable return. By what law has the negro 
been left out of the right to be a better negro and to render a bet- 
ter service? The attempt to deny him this privilege is an attempt 


to take from him that which men grant to dogs and horses and 
cows. He lifts his dusky face into the face of his superior and 
asks why he may not be given the right to grow as well as dogs 
and horses and cows. For a superior race to hold down an infer- 
ior one simply that the superior race may have the services of the 
inferior, was the social doctrine of mediae valism. Americans can- 
not explain why they shudder at the social horrors of the tenth 
and eleventh centuries and are themselves content to keep the 
weak in their weakness in order that the strong may rule better. 

In the face of all doubts, honest and dishonest, concerning the 
negro's capacity for growth, it must be maintained that he can 
grow. It is not a question as to w^hether he can grow as rapidly 
and grow as much as another race; it is simply a question as to 
whether he can grow as a negro and fill the mission of his life. 
This question has been answered. He is capable of improvement; 
he has been improved. The negro in the South is not the same 
type of man originally sold in the South. 

Very much will have been done to solve the negro problem when 
men come to speak of him more as a man and less as a problem. 
Discussed as a problem he is in danger of thinking himself some- 
thing special, enigmatic, mysterious and confusing. In this state 
of mind he will not be disposed to take a sober view of himself, 
and instead of solving a problem, one of w^orse nature will be 
created. Instead of making him think of himself as a low and 
worthless sort of creature, make him terribly conscious of all the 
qualities of a personality. 

If the negro cannot be made to fill the mission of a human life, 
if he cannot be made to fill a higher place in the kingdom of hu- 
man life, then American civilization must acknowledge a defeat, 
it has found a race of people which it cannot benefit, the Chris- 
tian religion has discovered a man that it cannot save. In such 
a defeat the negro can have no responsibility and no chagrin. It 
is not his, it is the defeat of the Christian religon and the Ameri- 
can civilization. 

In passing from a lower to a higher plane of life and manhood, 
the negro must travel the ordinary way of progress along which 
all other races have come. He must be given time to grow. The 
evolution of racial character is slow and tedious, and no im- 
proved formula has been found by which a race can rise in a 


century to the highest duties and offices of an advanced civiHza- 
tion. The negro himself must learn this, and in learning it learn 
to be patient, and like Abraham, follow a promise which was 
fulfilled centuries after he had passed away. So the enthusiastic 
and over-zealous friend of the negro race must learn to be patient. 
An effort to override the laws of the evolution of life will bring 
sure destruction, and the negro will find his worst enemy in that 
man who vvnshes to rush his progress by some process of false 

The destiny of the human race is a moral destiny. All the laws 
of life and progress are in the interest of moral development. The 
history of every race makes clear the truth that men advance as 
they grov^ in virtue and truth and that they decay as they lose 
moral power. The negro is no exception to this ethnic law. His 
destiny is a moral destiny; his equipment for a serviceable mission 
in life must be a moral equipment. No amount of wealth, no 
amount of social law, no amount of political gifts, can substitute 
for the lack of moral power and growth. The place which a man 
may fill in the kingdom of human life depends upon his ideals, his 
faiths, his loves, his hopes, his motives, his sympathies, and his 
powers of self-restraint and self-direction. As the negro learns 
these things he will find himself better fitted to assume the 
responsibilities and work at the tasks of a growing man. 

The development of the moral resources of the individual and 
of the race, is not a spontaneous development. On the contrary 
it is a very laborious and complicated task. Each century has 
added something to the machinery that is being worked for the 
moral progress of mankind, but the machinery will not be per- 
fected until everything is organized to this end. 

The moral growth of the negro like the moral growth of every 
race rests upon his intellectual growth. Ignorance is not the 
mother of virtue in any race of people. If it is a hurt to the 
negro there is no logic by which it may be proved to be a benefit 
to the Anglo-Saxon. God has never made any race of men who 
are better because they are ignorant and better in proportion to 
their ignorance. The assertion that education ruins the negro 
proves too much. It cannot be denied that the negro who goes 
from the plow to college does not return from the college to the 
plow, but this is no truer of the negro than it is of the young 

[ 11 ] 

white man. It cannot be denied that education creates discon- 
tent, for whatever changes a man's ideas changes his desires, and 
since education is a process of changing ideas and standards of 
thought, it necessarily produces discontent. But a well-ordered 
and well-controlled discontent lies back of all improvement. 
Whether education shall be helpful or whether it shall be hurtful 
depends, not upon the fact that it creates discontent, but upon 
the quality of the discontent and the power to govern it for wor- 
thy ends. It cannot be expected that colleges shall produce hod- 
carriers and plowmen. However, they should produce men who 
believe in work and who are both willing and able to do that 
class of work for which they are best fitted and which will render 
the largest service to mankind. The complaint, therefore, 
brought against colleges that they do not prepare men to fill the 
lower w^alks of life, is a truth which cannot be denied, but it is 
not to be expected that they should do so, for if higher edu- 
cation has any meaning, it means an effort to make a higher man 
for higher things. 

It is admitted that education is not altogether an innocent 
thing. There is a hurtful education and there is a helpful educa- 
tion, but whether education benefits or hurts any one depends 
more on the teacher and the education given than it depends on 
the one who is educated. Certainly the results of it cannot 
depend upon the color of the person taught. If the ideals of 
education are low, if the motives of it are selfish, if the aims of it 
are material, if the sympathies of it are narrow and the methods 
are false, the education will be hurtful, not only to the educated 
man, but to society at large. If the ideals of education are high 
and true, if the motives of it are pure and noble, if the aim of it 
is to fit a man for better service, if its sympathies are broad and 
sincere, if the methods are sound and sober, and if it gives one a 
mastery over all his powers and makes him an unselfish member 
of society, it will prove a benefit to all races of men. It is not 
denied that some negroes have been hurt by education. It has 
created in them a conceit and pompous self-assertion, a social 
arrogance and wild and false ambitions, and unfitted them for 
any responsible place in a social organization. But these same 
unfortunate results may be found among educated men of all 
races and nations. Some Anglo-Saxons have been ruined by it. 


Educators have not yet fully solved the problems of education, 
and it is a painful fact that there are too many of them who are 
indifferent to the proper solution of these problems, but be this as 
it may, the failure of education to do all that it may do, is not 
a racial question nor a racial issue. 

Very much attention is being given to the kind of education 
most profitable for the negro race at its present stage of progress. 
In general terms the answer is easy. That education which is 
best adapted to advance the negro in moral truth and moral 
character is the education best adapted to his needs and the one 
that should be given him. Moral development begins at the 
point of common necessities. The first moral truths which the 
savage must learn are those truths which come to him in his 
efforts to provide for his temporal necessities. The first virtues 
which he must cultivate are those virtues which regard health 
and cleanliness and food and raiment and shelter. Until these 
have been learned higher moral lessons cannot be learned. In 
slavery the negro was taught the primary lessons of his material 
necessities. But higher lessons in industry must be learned, for 
out of them are developed the spirit of perseverance, of patience, 
of self-denial, and of self-direction. So the education given atTus- 
keegee and Hampton is founded in wisdom. However, industrial 
education does not and cannot develop the highest and broadest 
moral character. If the negro is only capable of learning the 
lesser morals and filling the lesser spheres of moral duty, then 
industrial education -will prove sufi&cient for all his development. 
If this be a final estimate of him then he should not be held 
responsible to the higher ethics of society and civics. If he is to 
bejudgedbythestandardsof high moral life, then he must be given 
those things which will fit him to meet the duties and tasks of this 
higher moral life. To shut a race within narrow limits forces it 
to develop a contentment with a low order of things. The right 
of the negro to study literature and philosophy does not rest 
upon the possibility, or even the probability, of his producing a 
great poem, carving a great statue or painting a great picture. 
It rests upon the right of every man to look as far into the uni- 
verse as he can, and gather to himself all the powers of thought 
and spirit that may lift him, though it may lift him by small 
degrees. The right to study Shakspere, Angelo, and Raphael 


does not depend upon a man's ability to write Macbeth, to carve 
David, or to paint the Transfiguration. It rests upon the right 
of every hungry soul to be fed at the best tables; and to deny to 
the negro the strongest and the highest influences is to enslave 
him to a life of moral weakness and moral degradation. And 
the God who made him in the final settlement of human history 
will not likely overlook such unrighteous conduct. 

In the moral development of the negro, which includes all of 
his development, the w^hite man of America has a grave responsi- 
bility and a rich opportunity. It is not the responsibility of one 
section, it is the responsibility of the whole nation. We are one 
people, and this nation cannot be weak at one point without 
that weakness being felt at every point. A dangerous element in 
one section of the nation is a danger to every section of the nation, 
so the duty to the negro race is no more a duty of New Orleans, 
Atlanta, and Charleston than it is of Boston, New York and Chi- 
cago. The fact that the negro lives in the South does not relieve 
the North and the West from moral responsibility; for moral 
responsibilities are not matters of geographical location, they 
are questions of moral relations and moral opportunities. Those 
men, therefore, who assert that the North has nothing to 
do with the problem of improving this race and making them 
safe and serviceable citizens, not only speak hurriedly but speak 
blindly. This class, though, are not to be condemned any more 
than the class who ignore the feelings and sentiments of the 
South and would make of the negro a kind of citizen that would 
be neither servicable nor safe. 

The South has not entirely disregarded its duties to this race. 
In the Southern home and on the Southern plantation the negro 
was taught his first lessons of civilization. The fact that he 
learned these lessons as a slave does not obviate the fact that he 
learned them in the South. Slavery has been one of the stages 
through which other peoples and nations have passed in their 
early development, and through it the negro received no small 
benefits. No one would be so foolish as to defend slavery as a per- 
manent organization of society; yet as a temporary method of im- 
pressing the first lessons in civilization upon a race just emerging 
from savagery, it has had it notable benefits. Besides this source 
of help, there has been no lack of strong and true white men in 


the South who have had a genuine interest in the negro's wel- 
fare. Bishop Atticus G. Haygood gave to their development the 
best energies of his matured strength, while Bishops W. W. Dun- 
can and Warren A. Candler have always exerted themselves to 
advance the best interests of the negro race. The leading churches 
in the South have had some concern for the salvation of this peo- 
ple; but after all due credit has been given, it still remains true 
that the negro looks to the white man for help, and has a right 
to expect his help, and the white man can do much more than 
has been done to help the negro to a better life. This right is 
founded in the fact that the white man is a superior race, that 
the negro is a citizen of this country, that whatever makes him a 
weak citizen in this nation concerns the entire nation; and above 
all these, the negro's right to expect help from the v^hite man 
rests upon the unchanging and unchangeable laws of righteous- 
ness, that bend all men, at all times and in all places, to do the 
right thing instead of doing that which seems most convenient 
and most pleasing. 

In doing for this race what should be done for it the church is 
expected to have a leading, if not the leading, part. This expec- 
tation arises from the teachings of the Christian religion , which 
teachings are the foundation of the church's faith. Christianity 
does not exclude any race of people from hope and salvation, but 
on the contrary, it inspires in every people, of whatever race, a 
living hope for better things. *'God is no respecter of persons" is 
a fundamental truth in Christian faith. Jews, Greeks, Romans, 
Egyptians, Arabians, Parthians, Medes, Elamites, all heard the 
words of the gospel of Jesus Christ on the day the church was 
formally inaugurated for the w^orld's redemption. At the present 
time the church in America is asserting catholicity of faith with 
marked energy, and sending its missionaries to all continents and 
islands, laboring among all races, classes and conditions, with 
the hope of bringing them into the kingdom of God, which is the 
kingdom of redemption. This zeal is one of the startling devel- 
opments of the past half century. But wherein lies the consis- 
tency of a zeal for the salvation of the negro in Brazil, the deni- 
zen of the Fiji Islands, and the savage in the jungles of Africa, 
while the ten million negroes of this land go about largely excluded 
from the missionary efforts of the American church, whose walls 


they dug out of the mud and formed into brick ? By what pro- 
cess of reasoning can be reconciled a tremendous effort to raise the 
inhabitants of the PhiHppine Islands out of their degradation 
and yet give no place to a faith in the Southern negro's future ? 

What sort of argument makes it consistent for the Christian 
woman in America to give her time and efforts to the manage- 
ment of a missionary society for the salvation of the degraded 
ten thousand miles from her home, while she passes over a fine 
field for Christian work in her kitchen? Is it fully in keeping 
with the Christian religion to pay and pray for the salvation of 
India and do nothing for the one who nurses the babe of the wor- 
shipper ? There may be a logic by v^hich it can be proved that it 
is heroism in a white missionary to teach negroes in Brazil and 
spurn the idea in America, but there are not a few sincere men 
w^ho are unable no discern it. For the American church there is 
today on the face of the whole globe no other missionary field 
more inviting and from which comes louder and more plaintive 
calls than the ten million negroes that live in the Southern States. 
To have an ear for the cries in all other places in the earth and no 
ear to hear the cries of these servants at our doors and about our 
streets, has something in it of the apperance of insincerity. It is, 
to say the least, rather queer doctrine, and the time has come for 
the church to give some consideration to the logical consistency 
of its creeds. If the negro has a wrong faith, and there are not 
a few who say he has, if he has incorrect ideas of social ethics 
and business obligations, in the name of God who is to teach him 
better ways? It is not enough to advertise the weakness of a 
race, something must be done to remedy it, and those who are 
quick to see the weak points are the ones upon whom rests the 
first duty to undertake the cure of them. It is cruel to mock the 
blind who is trying to lead the blind because there is no other 
who will lead. 

However clear may be the mission of the church to this race, 
the state has also a clear duty. In these latter times the idea of 
the state's functions has been greatly widened, and without dis- 
cussing the wisdom of some of the modern theories concerning 
the extent of these functions, it is very generally accepted that 
the state should not impede the righteous progress of any class 
of its citizens, and that its laws should be so administered that 


each citizen may entertain all worthy ambitions of growth. 
Certainly no place is given in the modern state to the idea that 
the weak class should be kept weak because it is weak. Such a 
policy would not be defended by any sober minded man. This 
does not say that the weak class should be the ruling class. If 
anything is clear it is that the right to govern rests upon the 
capacity to govern, and those who are fittest to rule should rule. 
This is in the interest of the weak, and any method of selecting 
for rulers the unfittest man is a false method. The affairs of the 
government ofa high civilization are too intricate to be committed 
to the direction untrained hands and minds. For such a task 
the negro is not prepared and of this no one is surer than the 
best representatives of the negro race. But the negro is a citizen 
of this nation and it is to the interest of the nation that he be 
made a good and serviceable citizen, and unto this end the 
government should be administered. Danton and Marat tried to 
build a republic on party tyranny and declared, **We must strike 
terror into the hearts of our foes. It is our only safety." Such a 
republic could not even come to birth. Hopefulness is the strength 
of citizenship and the state that crushes it out crushes out its 
own life. 

In the performance of its duty to the negro the state must act 
with a sympathy becoming the negro's lack of equipment for 
discharging the highest tasks of a citizen and must show a con- 
cern for his preparation to perform them. A government does 
itself the greatest hurt when it makes any class of its citizens lose 
confidence in it, or makes them doubt w^hether their government 
is concerned for their protection. It has been the glory of America 
that it has held out a helping hand to all who needed help and 
this is still its noblest trait. The state, therefore, should not 
discriminate against any class of its citizens in the work of public 
education. It is to the credit of the Southern States that they 
have drawn no race lines in providing funds for the education of 
the children of these states, nor is there any likelihood that any 
such discrimination will be made. 

The weaker classes in a state learn from the examples of the 
stronger classes and these examples should teach the soundest 
civic lessons. They should magnify the dignity of the state, they 
should give emphasis to the sanctity of law, and they ought to 

Kfs(ortK Carolina Sfaf^ CB^m 


inspire in all a love of truth and justice. For these reasons vio- 
lations of the regular order of government produce the opposite 
effects intended by such extraordinary procedure. Mobs are 
poor teachers of civic righteousness; they do not create a public 
respect for the dignity and sanctity of the state. There are two 
victims of mob rule, the individual on whom the vengeance falls 
and the state. 

All men, whatever may be their rank or their vocation, must 
come to take a sober view of the negro problem, if it must be 
called a problem. It must not be left to the demagogue, to the 
mob, to political intrigues, to the negro-hater among white men, 
or to the white-man-hater among the negroes. The issues are 
the issues of a human life and cannot be settled by passionate 
men of any race or section. The negro is here and though Thomas 
Jefferson declared that as a free man he could not live in the 
South with the white man, there are those who believe that 
something can be done in the Christian South that was not pos- 
sible in pagan Rome or infidel France. The white man is not 
afraid of the negro and any intimation that he is in the least de- 
gree jealous of the negro is an imputation too feeble to be noticed. 
The Turk cannot live with the Jew, but in the South the negro 
has lived and learned and he can stay here and continue to learn. 
The man who has a knowledge of rural life in the South can- 
not fail to be impressed with the genuine confidence that exists 
between the white man and the country negro. It is an illustra- 
tion that two races may be distinct in every sense and yet live in 
peace and common helpfulness. There are thousands of the best 
men in the South who are unwilling to espouse the Utopian 
dream of sending the negro to a region of his own, and there are 
thousands of the best negroes who are not going. Let those who 
have leisure write books about such a colony, but those who 
have fields to till, canals to dig, railroads to build, and other 
labor to do are not ready for such a migration. There are not 
a few who believe in their hearts that the negro can live his best 
life in the South, make his best friends in the South, render his 
43est service in the South, come to his fullest growth in the South, 
and die in peace and full of hope in the South. 

Nothing is more absurd than the cry of social equality between 
the races. It is a political hocus-pocus of the hugest sort. Social 


equality is everywhere a matter of individual choice. It has been 
so always and always will be so. Each man chooses his own 
companions and chooses them on the grounds of personal con- 
genialities. The negroes are not socially equal among them- 
selves, neither are the white people, and the wild cry that the 
time will come when one man will be forced to associate with 
another contrary to his wishes is a night-mare. No law can 
force social equality; no local relations can force it; no sort of 
edict can force it; and social relations will never be established 
except by the choice of the parties forming the association; and 
the only way for the negro to become the associate of the white 
man is by the free consent of the white man. This social equal- 
ity has been dragged into this question, but is no part of the 
negro problem, his problem is one of personal growth, not of 
social equality. 

If the negro problem is not settled according to the eternal 
laws of righteousness, the negro wall not be the only sufferer; he 
will not be the greatest sufferer; if it is settled in righteousness, 
he will not be the only one helped. Human life and human des- 
tiny are so marvelously interwoven in the principle of interde- 
pendency that the life which is spent in raising others is spent in 
raising itself, and so it is ordained that one finds his greatest 
growth in trying to make others grow. It is the unselfish, sacri- 
ficing soul that has a chance to rise to greatness in this world. 
God has so ordained it and none can reverse His laws. The con- 
trary to this is true. The man, or the race of men who expend their 
energies in depressing the lowly go down with those they depress. 
If a lowly class becomes the occasion for the cultivation of spites, 
suspicions, tyranny in any form the Avorst victim will be the man 
in whom these things exist. What greater thing can be said to the 
credit ofthe South than that it took a race of people at a low point 
and nursed them into a character Avorthy of confidence and respect? 
What if other sections of this nation admit that they cannot 
raise the negro, what if other nations speak in terms of doubt 
about them, let the South show the world that the task which 
Providence has set for it shall be performed, and in the perform- 
ance of it the South will find a grander Southerner with a deeper 
soul, richer heart, broader mind, and diviner record. In the 
efforts to exercise a deeper sympathy with the weak and lowly 



any people will come to abide in a fuller confidence with them- 
selves. But he who learns to hate an inferior class will eventually 
practice malice on all classes. One cannot hate a dog without 
eventually coming to hate men. The Girondists consented with 
the Jacobins to the death of Louis and Marie Antoinette, and 
shortly afterwards Danton and Robespierre contrived the execu- 
tion of Madame Roland, and the day came when Robespierre 
consented to the death of Danton. Such is the history of social 
malice, having devoured its enemies it sets to work to devour 

To whom should this race look for better help and more sympa- 
thetic help than to the colleges of the South? It is not the busi- 
ness of the college to take up the excited feelings of the street and 
nurse them into stronger forms of passion. The college has a 
higher place in the life of the nation, it has a better service to 
render society. The college man should be able to see things in 
the light of the highest laws, to see them in all their bearings, to 
measure them in all their relations, to study them to the furthest 
conclusion, and speak of them with the calmness of one who 
regards the truth above all other considerations, who has an 
unshaken faith in the truth as the sure way to perfection, who 
holds a mastery over rabid passions and who knows how to 
work at hard things till they have been finished in the right way. 
If the college and the college men do not mean this to the 
nation, then they mean nothing that is worth while, they have 
no righteous claim to the confidence of the nation, they should be 
laughed out of business. For Trinity College no friend can covet 
a higher record than to send forth a body of strong men who 
will lay their hands cool and healing on the fevered brows of 
agitated men, who will speak a strong and faith-making word 
to doubting minds, and generously give out the resources of 
mind and heart to those who are most in need of them. 

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GC 301.451 K4760 

Kilgo, John Carlisle, 1861- 
Our duty to the negro, 

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Kit? 60 




Our duty to the negro 

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Our duty to the negro